Esports Arena: 'Smash Bros.' Pro Pleads With Nintendo for More Support of Competitive Gaming Community

Switch Super Smash Bros Ultimate - Game- H 2018
Courtesy of Nintendo

Elsewhere in competitive gaming: a new revenue-sharing framework for 'Counter-Strike: Global Offensive' competition is approved and the 'Call of Duty' League issues its first major rule change.

Esports Arena is a curated weekly roundup of the biggest stories in the world of online competitive gaming.

Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, a veteran League of Legends player for T1 Entertainment and Sports (formerly SK Telecom 1), has been named part owner of the organization and has signed a new three-year deal for competition. Sang-hyeok will assume a "leadership role" once the deal concludes in 2022. 

Sang-hyeok has been a part of the T1 organization since 2013, where he became one of only two players to win three League of Legends World Championships, as well as multiple other competitions. 

T1’s next contest in the League of Legends Champions Korea league is scheduled for Feb 19, a three-game series against Kingzone DragonX.

Elsewhere, ESL and Dreamhack have announced a landmark agreement with multiple teams in its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive league to adopt a new framework for league matches. Called the "Louvre Agreement," the new structure will contain a 24-team competition acting as a single global division instead of the current regional format, team recognition as major stakeholders in the league, teams playing key roles in strategic decision-making and revenue sharing for all events.

Thirteen teams signed the agreement at a meeting in Paris in January, including Team Liquid, Complexity Gaming and current champion Astralis. All ESL Pro Tour competitions will be affected by this new agreement, including IEM Katowice and Dreamhack Masters, as well as ESL Pro League and ESL One. 

Here’s what else is happening in the world of esports.

Overwatch League Matches Detoured to Seoul Due to Coronavirus

Two homestands for Chinese Overwatch League teams previously scheduled for February and March will be moved to Seoul, South Korea, Blizzard has announced. The news came via a blog post last week that confirmed the matches originally scheduled for Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hangzhou have been moved to South Korea. The matches were originally cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak affecting much of mainland China, but now the matches will be played during weeks six and seven of the league schedule in March, with some potentially being added to the Seoul Dynasty’s homestand in week five. Blizzard has confirmed that these rescheduled matches "will not affect the other scheduled homestands in Washington (week five), Florida (week six) and Atlanta (week seven)."

Pro Gamer Lambasts Nintendo For Lack of Esports Support 

After winning the Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament at Smash Summit 9 last weekend, Juan "HungryBox" Debiedma spoke publicly about Nintendo’s lack of support for the competitive community, pleading with the developer to support the growing scene. "Nintendo, I love you guys, but you are the only one not putting resources into the scene," Dibiedma said. "Look at Capcom Cup and that celebration, look at Fortnite, look at every other game. This is the stuff that you’re missing, and if you did it the appreciation would be bar-none unlike anything you’ve received." Nintendo recently came under criticism for offering only a limited edition Switch Pro controller to the winner of the EVO Japan 2020 tournament, while other game’s tournaments sported top prizes of thousands of dollars. Nintendo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Call of Duty League to Reduce Round Times 

In an effort to shorten overall match length, the Call of Duty League has announced it will be shortening the round times for two of the league’s three major game modes. Search and Destroy will decrease from two minutes a round to one minute 30 seconds, while Domination will drop from six minutes per round to five. The changes come after both days of the London Home Series on Feb. 8 and 9 saw competitions go beyond the scheduled end times. The changes are already in effect and will be used during this weekend’s Home Series in Atlanta.

Pokimane Donates $50,000 to UC Irvine for Esports Scholarships

Popular game streamer Imane "Pokimane" Anys has announced she will be donating $50,000 to the University of California Irvine to support esports scholarships. Anys’ donation will be used to help students pursue a degree in any field while competing in the school’s many esports offerings. "I love being able to share my experience of how I got to where I am today in hopes that it will help others who are on their way," Anys said. "I’m also especially happy to be supporting UCI’s esports program because their students are focusing on gaming in addition to pursuing their college degrees — which, I can say from experience, isn’t easy." The school has revealed that Anys’s grants will be given $2,500 at a time to one student per year beginning in 2022.